Nine people were killed and 25 injured in a “terrorist” attack on a passenger bus in Gilgit-Baltistan’s Chilas on Saturday, according to officials.
Diamer DC Captain (Rtd) Arif Ahmad confirmed the development to Dawn.com, adding that the incident occurred at 6:30pm in the Hudur area of Chilas when the bus came under fire and suffered an accident after colliding with an oncoming truck.
“An unfortunate incident occurred in which a cowardly act was done, targeting a bus which set off from Gahkuch in Ghizer,” the DC said.
The official said that five bodies were identified so far while three remained to be determined. He later confirmed to Dawn.com that an injured person died later, bringing the toll to nine deaths.
“Most of the people belong to all of Pakistan, including Kohistan, Peshawar, Ghizer, Chilas, Roundu, Skardu, Mansehra, Swabi and one or two people from Sindh.”
DC Ahmad said two Pakistan Army soldiers were also martyred in the “cowardly act” while one personnel of the Special Protection Unit was injured as well.
Diamer Superintendent of Police Sardar Shehryar said the first responders on the scene were police officers who moved the dead and the injured, adding that the truck which had collided with the bus was also on fire and its driver killed.
“The rest of the cars there were secured and moved from there in the form of a convoy,” he said, adding that the location was secured as well to collect evidence.
GB Chief Minister Haji Gulbar Khan condemned the “cowardly act of terrorism”, said a statement issued from his office.
It added that a special team was formed for the investigation of the incident and a thorough inquiry was being conducted.
“The government will ensure that the terrorists involved in the attack are given the appropriate punishment and brought to justice. They will be apprehended and kept in custody according to the law, and strict punishment will be given. The government will utilise all its resources to apprehend the criminals.
“The government of Gilgit-Baltistan will bear all the expenses of the injured individuals and will ensure better medical facilities. The concerned departments have been given instructions for this purpose,” the statement said.
It added that law enforcement agencies were issued strict orders for the immediate arrest of the criminals and the GB inspector general of police would oversee the process to ensure that the identification of anti-state elements could be carried out so they could be given strict punishments.
“The government of Gilgit-Baltistan stands with the affected individuals in this difficult time. The blood of the martyrs will not go in vain, and all the murderers will be brought to justice,” the statement quoted the chief minister as saying.
He also said that the regional government was taking every possible step to establish peace in the region and “no one would be allowed to sabotage” it.
GB Home Minister Shams Lone also condemned the attack in a press conference. However, he said eight people were dead and 16 were injured according to the government’s count.
Pakistan has witnessed an uptick in terror activities in recent months, especially in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, after the banned militant Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan ended its ceasefire with the government last year.
In September, data compiled by the Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies said the number of militant attacks in August was the highest tally for monthly strikes in almost nine years.